Portland's got the blues

Waterfront Blues Festival boasts its biggest names yet

By Jenny Wasson / The Bulletin

Portland is celebrating the nation's birthday in grand fashion this July with the award-winning Waterfront Blues Festival.

Established in 1987 and produced by the Oregon Food Bank, the festival features more than 120 performances on four stages, six blues cruises, fireworks, workshops and dances. Boasting the biggest lineup in the festival's history, the Waterfront Blues Festival runs July 4-7 at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland.

“This year's tour de force comes July 7, which we've dubbed 'Sensational Sunday,'” said Oregon Food Bank's Laura Golino de Lovato in a news release. “That one day will include legendary gospel and blues singer Mavis Staples; Grammy Award-winning Taj Majal; 'sacred steel' virtuoso Robert Randolph & the Family Band; and for the closing act, former Led Zeppelin vocalist and songwriter Robert Plant presents The Sensational Space Shifters.”

The festival lineup also includes MarchFourth Marching Band, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, John Hiatt & the Combo and North Mississippi Allstars.

According to the release, the Waterfront Blues Festival is “the largest blues festival west of the Mississippi and the second-largest blues festival in the nation.” The event is the Oregon Food Bank's largest annual fundraiser. Last year's festival raised an estimated 116,584 pounds of food.

Entry into the festival July 4, 5 and 6 is a suggested donation of at least $10 and two cans of food per person per day. For the first time, a festival pass will be required for July 7 performances due to space limitations.

Tickets are selling fast with Blues Buddy Passes, Blues Benefactor Passes and Blues Patron Passes already sold out. The Blues Basic Pass, which includes four-day entry into the entire festival, is $60. Sunday only tickets are $50. For tickets and more information, visit www.waterfrontbluesfest.com or call 503-282-0555.